Regulators

Tata Sky-Airtel case: HC asks TRAI to file reply before 25 July

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NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today issued notice to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on two different petitions by direct-to-home platforms TataSky and Airtel Digital challenging the Tariff and the Reference Interconnect Order regulations.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal listed the matter for 25 July 2017 and directed the respondents to file their affidavits and the petitioners to file counter-affidavits if any before that date.

Although the cases were listed separately, the bench decided to hear the matters together since similar grounds had been raised.

The Court also issued notice on an application by the two platforms seeking a stay of the tariff order. (In another matter pending before the Madras High Court, the Supreme Court on 8 May stayed the operation of the regulations till completion of the case in the High Court.)  

The petitions seeks an order not only for setting aside these regulations, but also some sub-sections of Section 11 of the TRAI Act 1997 as being violative of the Constitution.

The TataSky petition has been on behalf of the platform and Mr S Ganesan, Chief Financial Officer. The respondents are both TRAI and Union of India.

Indiantelevision.com had earlier reported that the primary problem arises from the fact that all stakeholders will have to abide by the rates fixed by the broadcaster according to the new tariff order.

The DTH players are agitated not only with the fact that they pay over 85% of the service tax and entertainment tax in the digitised universe, but the fact that their liberty to make their own bouquets may be taken away with the broadcasters having the say in fixing rates for individual channels.

Tata Sky CEO Harit Nagpal had earlier confirmed to indiantelevision.com that the platform was moving the Delhi High Court against TRAI on the tariff order. As it is one of the largest among the six private DTH operators, the approximately Rs 50-billion Tata Sky may be joined by other players.

TRAI had first come out with a draft tariff order in October 2016 but was embroiled in the case in Madras High Court which had initially directed status quo. Later, TRAI had issued the orders on 3 March after getting the green signal from the apex court even as the broadcasters? case was pending in the High Court.

Apart from the Tariff order which had originally been issued on 10 October last year, the regulator also issued the DAS Interconnect Regulations which had been issued on 14 October last year, and the Standards of Quality of Service and Consumer Protection (Digital Addressable Systems) Regulations which had been issued on 10 October last year.

Meanwhile in another matter pending before the Madras High Court where Star India and Vijay TV have challenged the regulations under the Copyright Act on the ground that content does not come in the ambit of TRAI, the Supreme Court on 8 May stayed the operation of the regulations but asked the High Court to dispose of the case within four weeks.

Also read:

SC stays new TRAI tariff, asks Madras HC to complete hearing in four weeks

Tata Sky & Airtel DTH pleas against TRAI tariff in Delhi HC on Friday

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